The Navy's vaping ban is counter productive, won't help their sailors

The U.S. Navy is set to ban all e-cigs from their aircraft, ships, submarines, and boats on May 14 this year. According to the Navy Times, this is due to a string of incidents occurring regarding battery safety and minor explosions of devices:

“Between October 2015 and the present, the Safety Center has logged 31 incidents of sailors being injured by exploding batteries, some seriously, according to the Navy's statistics. Many of those incidents occurred on Navy ships and at least two required the use of shipboard firefighting equipment to extinguish fires. Many occurred while the e-cigarette was in a sailor’s pocket, resulting in first- and second-degree burns. At least two sailors have had their e-cigarettes blow up in their mouths, resulting in facial and dental injuries.”

This policy is said to remain in effect until a final determination can be made. An article from The Verge states, “Sailors who are currently deployed will be asked to remove batteries from their e-cigarette devices and store them in non-conductive containers. Use of such devices will be allowed on shore at designated smoking areas.”

With the Navy banning e-cigarette use, those who still smoke traditional cigarettes are still able to light up on any Navy vessel. The only cigarette-related policy in the Navy is their prohibition of tobacco sales on Navy ships themselves, or in stores located on Navy and Marine Corps bases. The Navy Secretary, Ray Mabus, even went as far as to make this statement regarding cigarette use for enlisted members: "We know tobacco hurts you. We know tobacco kills you. We know it makes you less fit, and one of our big initiatives is to have sailors that are fit and resilient…. And so the whole idea is that we want to encourage sailors who smoke to quit."

We asked our very own VapeWild Customer Service Director, Drew Fenton, who is a Navy Veteran Hull Technician, what he thinks about the vaping ban on Navy vessels:

“I was a member of the Firefighting Squad while I was active in the Navy, and the majority of fire incidents were caused by cigarettes or something related. So the idea that the Navy has banned vaping due to a supposed fire hazard is absurd - as if cigarettes don't start fires. Also, the military as a whole has thrown billions of dollars at campaigns to get members of the Armed Forces to quit smoking, and this vaping ban drastically limits alternatives to smoking, which is what you might think the military would want - more alternatives to help people quit."

"Vaping could also have very unique benefits in the military as well," Drew continues. "Aboard Naval ships, they regularly conduct ‘Flight Ops’ at night where every light on the ship must be turned off to avoid interfering with the night vision equipment pilots use, so you can’t smoke cigarettes during this time either, because the only places on a ship you can smoke are exposed to the outside a lit cigarette can be seen for miles. What’s good about vaping is that almost all mods these days have a ‘stealth’ setting so you could still vape during night ‘Flight Ops’. I'm sure other branches of the military could benefit from the same thing when operating in the field.”

Although vaping isn’t completely banned in the Navy, according to NPR, "sailors on shore will still be allowed to use [Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems] on base, but must do so in designated smoking areas ashore while on military installations."

You heard it, the official Navy Secretary wants sailors to quit smoking, but they’re restricting sailors from utilizing a safer alternative to smoking. Seems like a bit of a conundrum for those enlisted. When the Navy is encouraging their members to stop smoking, what other viable options do they have to get away from cigarettes? Gum? Patches? Those options simply don’t cut the nicotine craving for most people.

We obviously want all of our sailors to be safe on-board the ships, no questions about that, but with all these military campaigns to get enlisted members to quit, they should be allowed to explore healthier alternatives, like vaping. All of us have seen countless studies showing how vaping significantly reduces the amount of harm done to the body, and the real question is, has the military done their own research on the matter?

Ultimately, this move feels counter productive to the health and safety of sailors. Issues with batteries and mod explosions are extremely rare, and the Navy seemingly would be better served ensuring sailors have access to both top end hardware and proper battery safety training. Vaping is both safer for the individual vaper and people around them who won't be inhaling second hand smoke. If the Navy truly wants to help people kick the cigarette habit, taking away easily the best alternative seems counter productive.

What are YOUR thoughts on this upcoming policy?

Posted by Alex on Apr 25th 2017

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